Writer’s Craft #87 Point of View
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies and she has published two novels, Psyche’s Prophecy and Psyche’s Search. Psyche’s Promise, is slated for release during the summer of 2012. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
What is POV and Why is it so Important?
Quite simply, POV stands for Point of View. For fictional authors, the POV character(s) is whose eyes the story is told through. Though it can be challenging to tell a story this way — because the reader can’t know anything the POV character doesn’t — it provides unparalleled opportunity to build a wonderful, three-dimensional protagonist that readers can bond with.
Characters are what make fiction. Readers take them to heart, live their stories with them and are sad when the book ends. POV is what accomplishes this. It’s an author’s primary vehicle to create effective storybook characters that jump off the page and into a reader’s soul.
Long ago, I was taught you needed a minimum of 5,000 words between POV shifts. In my own writing, I’ve found it most effective to stick with two — or at the most three — POV characters in a hundred thousand word novel. While I haven’t counted words between POV changes, I do try to have shifts between who’s telling the story feel natural. Convenient plot twists tossed on the altar of an author’s desperation to bring a particular outcome to bear stick out like a sore thumb.
How do you handle POV in your writing? What’s worked best for you?